A recent study of Twitter by digital agency 360i – which tracked usage by big brands for 6 months – suggests many organizations are still using Twitter to push information rather than engaging in sustained, targeted conversations with customers. Check out this blog post on the study.

It’s no surprise that brands are flocking to Twitter, which according to 360i has over 100 million regular users posting an average 65 million tweets a day. But as this study makes clear, many corporations still fail to understand the dynamics and marketing potential of the platform. For one, it’s a primarily consumer-driven networking platform – with over 90% of tweets coming from individual consumers. Only 12% of tweets even mention a brand (and of those the most frequently cited are Twitter, Apple and Google.) Second, Twitter remains an amazing un-filtered forum for listening and responding to customers. Yet “only 12% of all marketer tweets demonstrate active dialogue with consumers, signifying that most of them aren’t tapping Twitter’s full potential. [And] only 1% of consumer tweets that mention a brand are part of a conversation with that brand.”

From what I’ve seen and heard, there are several reasons for this limited dialogue by brands:

  • Companies are still trying to use traditional “push” marketing or PR strategies in the new social media environment
  • Organizations are reluctant to invest the resources required to properly manage their social media presence (for example assigning staff to monitor and respond to relevant threads or posts)
  • Few organizations have a process in place to actually identify and/or address brand questions, comments or complaints raised on Twitter
  • Companies are still paranoid of the potential risk (real or imagined) of candid, informal online conversation

This study suggests many corporate or marketing professionals are not utilizing Twitter to its full potential. The story is familiar: many organizations are now dabbling in social media, but few are doing what they can or should.